Fic: The Problem with Shiny 1/1
The Problem with Shiny 1/1
Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing.
Note: Oh my gosh... I have so many stories to get done... I’m so torn between original and Gundam Wing. I guess I’ll take writing when it happens, as it happens.
Life has its paths. Years wind around lives like roots digging deep into the soil. It had been two hundred years since Duo Maxwell had seen Heero Yuy.
Duo sat on the counter, legs swinging to the music playing through his dots. His hair was darker, still brown, but a much deeper sable. His eyes were darker to, more twilight than dawn now. He had a goatee threaded through and knotted just below a small sapphire bead. His jeans were faded, worn, as were his boots. He wore a baggy gray sweater of a fine thread, a new silk type that was soft, water and projectile repellent and never needed to be washed. So there he sat, feet swinging, his grin growing as he watched Heero walk across the port.
The argument they’d had the last time they’d been together replayed in Duo’s mind with perfect clarity. As technology progressed, upgraded memory and neural processing had been high on his list of wants. While there were many memories he enjoyed fuzzing out, muting, every memory with Heero in it was sharp, protected, saved in high definition.
He touched the blue tattoo under his right ear and whispered, barely loud enough to be audible, “Hey.”
Heero’s head came up, those blue eyes scanning the port waiting area, crowded with people traveling to the far corners of the Earthsphere.
Heero looked good. Taller, leaner but still powerful. His face was smooth, unaged, so Duo knew that he’d finally won that argument, in someway. Not in any uniform, Heero wore a black suit, tailored and some bastard child of Victorian and millennium fashion.
“You make my heart beat faster,” Duo said, still inaudible to anyone other than Heero who was the only person to ever be on Duo’s close circuit.
Those blue eyes narrowed. “You’re alive.”
Duo tilted his head, smirked, winked.
Heero crossed the room fast, moving around the other waiting passengers as if he were nearly a blurr. No one paid him much head, as everyone knew what shifters were, and no one much cared.
Duo spread his legs, leaned back a little and it wasn’t until Heero was there, close enough to touch that he understood how incomplete his life was without Heero. “Let’s get married again, Heero. I need you.”
Heero’s features were sharper, his eyes darker, lips a little thinner and he stood there inches from Duo and studied him. “Why didn’t you call me?”
“Baby, I’ve been livin in the same house we bought. Why didn’t you come home?”
“You were angry at me.”
“For like a week,” Duo said, cautiously reaching out to touch Heero’s cheek, feeling the oddly silky stubble on his angled cheek. “I just kept expecting you to come home. You went the path of the Shift too.”
“I did. You said Corvus....”
A tingling chill went across Duo’s neck, up his jaw. “You’re a raven... Corvus corax... God, Heero.”
Heero sneered, an instinctive revulsion. “Corvus brachyrhynchos,” Heero said, letting the words carry insult. “You’re a crow. We are,” Heero said, speaking slowly, “adversaries.”
Duo scooted a little forward on the counter, his knee brushing against Heero’s hip. “Well, I’m more human that crow. I’m just crow on the off days to keep the DNA fresh. You don’t eat crows, do you?”
“On occasion,” Heero admitted, paling a little. “They tasted disgusting.”
Duo reached out and grabbed Heero’s shirt, jerked him close and brushed his lips over Heero’s. At first it was soft and warm against hard, but then Heero grabbed him, a hand sliding into Duo’s hair, and he kissed him like a predator taking all he ever wanted. Duo moaned, hooked a leg around Heero’s knee. “I’d be a raven for you, baby, if you need me to. I can get recoded.”
“You’re still a crow,” Heero said, fingertips brushing over Duo’s eyebrow, then down to brush over dark lashes. The sadness in his blew eyes broke Duo’s heart. “You’ll always be a crow.”
The hair on the back of Duo’s neck stood up again and reckless excitement sparkled in his blood. “The Kaj is here. You’re here for the Kaj too, aren’t you?”
Aggression flashed across his face, eyes darkening, “You can’t beat me to it. A crow can never beat a raven.”
Duo drew up a knee, grinning cockily, “Oh, but Baby, it’s Christmas. Anything can happen. What’cha want it for anyway?”
“I have a wish that I want to be granted,” Heero said, stepping back.
Duo rolled his eyes. “Well yeah or you wouldn’t be here. What’da’ya want?”
A touch of humanity resurged in Heero. “I want to know if you ever loved me.”
“I have loved you always. I'll always love you. Will you just fuckin’ come home? That's my wish.”
“I can't. I'm a raven. I might harm you.”
“Bullshit. Folk or feathers, I can handle yer shit.”
“And if you can’t?” Heero said, eyes narrowing, calculations ticking away at possible outcomes, “then we both die. I will not risk your life, Duo, crow or not.”
“Heero, I need you in my life. I need you to just come home. We both need it, or we wouldn’t be here chasing the Kaj. We’ll just be careful.”
“That’s easy for you to say,” Heero complained, but his shoulders were softening as he drew a deep breath. “You’re unlikely to eat me.”
Duo wiggled his eyebrows, deliberately laid his finger on his tongue, closed his mouth around his finger and slowly drew his finger out while winking. “Oh, I think I could see my way to a taste.”
“I’m sorry I called you a coward. I didn’t mean it. I was just... frightened.”
“No issue. Don’t leave me again.”
“I didn’t leave you,” Heero said, letting himself be pulled closer, letting Duo’s legs wrap around his hips. “I was waiting for you to call me and I had trouble seeing you because you’re a crow.”
“Stealth, Baby, I does it right. God, I’ve missed you. Don’t be a stubborn asshole though.”
“I became a raven for reasons,” Heero pointed out, “Also, you could have called me.”
“Should have,” Duo agreed. “I’m sorry.”
“I forgive you.”
“Merry fucking Christmas,” Duo purred, running his fingers into Heero’s hair. “We don’t need the Kaj. All I ever wanted was you.”
“Agreed.” Heero said leaning forward to lay his head on Duo’s chest, and then said sadly, “You smell like crow.”
“Maybe it’ll grow on ya,” Duo said, wishing now that he could get the Kaj and be a raven with Heero. “I’m sorry I’m not better, Heero.”
Heero tightened his arms around Duo, one hand locked over his wrist. “You’re perfect. I’ll get the Kaj. I’ll be a crow.”
And then as if it were moments before Christmas, which it was, the small glowing little light appeared near the glass ceiling of the huge waiting room.
Trowa, who was personally working security at the spaceport, which Quatre had a majority ownership of, had been paying a great deal of attention to many important things, but not the actual flow of people around the three thousand person waiting area, only then noticed Heero and Duo. He smirked at their embrace, glad they were finally making up, like he’d been suggesting for two centuries of listening to each of them whine separately. Then he noticed the glowing light that was drawing Duo’s attention.
Frowning, he touched the tattoo below his right ear, “Kaj sighted. Depoy anti-mele options. How many of these damn shift bastards do we think we have in the crowd?”
“Just a few under five hundred, with a two percent margin of error,” his aide, Samantha Chang said. “In case you hadn’t noticed, Duo Maxwell and Heero Yuy are in the main waiting area. They are known avian types. Both have clearance to fly. They are associates of yours,” she asked clearly disapproving of such a connection.
“They are,” he said, jaw tight in the privacy of the control center he held to himself. Long life had not made him a more public person. He’d long since married Quatre and he put up with Quatre’s sometimes odd sense of ethics and loved him with a passion as bright as any he’d ever imagined. If there any other human relations that he truly valued, it would Yuy and Maxwell. “They are my friends,” he said sternly, “You are the daughter of a friend and my employee. If they come to the slightest harm, they will still be my friends and you will still be the daughter of a friend.”
“Understood,” she said professionally. “They are permitted to fly, despite their tendencies, so the blanket nerve agent should not affect them. Anomalies are beyond my control.”
“Proceed,” Trowa agreed, flicked the control tattoo on his neck and connected to Quatre.
“The Kaj has appeared in the central waiting room. We have nearly five hundred shifters, and Duo and Heero. I recommend evacuating the waiting room in the hopes that the Kaj will select another target.”
“If you do that we will have substantial cancelled and missed shuttles. The problem with shiny is that it’s always someone’s problem. The nerve agent will take down the bigger ones. The Kaj is a force of nature. Everyone understands that such things happen. It’s an act of God.”
“There may be casualties,” Trowa insisted, not wanting to clean such things up.
“It’ll be a fantastic show. Send out the staff. Free drinks for everyone. It’s Christmas.” The communication expanded to include a small projected video, and there was Quatre Rabre Winner sitting in the cafe on the main floor wearing a santa hat. “Have a sense of adventure!”
The expression on Trowa’s face was anything other than calm as he calculated the odds of his small framed husband being mauled by a shapeshifting bear or jaguar as they tried to capture a wish granting glowing marble and god fuck the world how did humans bring this kind of anarchy about!?
He ran from the control room, moving fast, but not as fast as the damn shifters. He understood the desire not to age, to not get ill, to live... but people should just use technology and not resort to convoluted magic garbage! He bypassed the elevator, racing down the stairs half a flight at a time.
When he emerged in the main waiting room on the night before Christmas, the Kaj floating slowly down from the ceiling several hundred human beings were shifting, preparing to chase the embodiment of mother nature, the creature that had granted all shift forms, allowing humans to cheat death and harmonize with nature in ways that Trowa did not fucking want to understand.
Normal humans clung to each other, took videos, excitedly posted to social media about being present at the god fucking damn Kaj. Trowa paused there at the edge of chaos as several black bears rose up from the crowd, growling and focused on the falling marble of damnation. A panther ran from the far side of the waiting room, fast, the lean body reaching until it jumped huge paws out, as if it could catch that tiny marble. Depth projection and trajectory plotting is not really a well known panther trait. Some woman screamed as a python slipped through her legs, brushing against her ankle.
And there was Mr. Winner, sitting there sipping tea, watching it all as if some video not half sane shifters having a riot in a crowded shuttle port waiting room. Trowa regained his sense and ran, long legs carrying him forward. He didn’t know why Chang hadn’t triggered the nerve agent, but for whatever reason one of the bears was charging Quatre. Trowa pulled his pistol as he ran, leaping rose of seating as he went. His heart hammered in his chest as he pushed every last bit of energy into his run, trying to gain ground against the roaring bear. Quatre had too many enemies!
When they were almost both at Quatre, Trowa dropped to a knee, pistol in both hands ready to take down the huge charging bear the moment he had a clear shot that wouldn’t endanger any of the innocent people just waiting for a shuttle on Christmas Eve. At the moment he would have fired, the bear ran hard into a force field, flattening like a linebacker into concrete, but invisible concrete and vertical. His tongue splayed out, huge and pink. A great black eye pressed to the field as the huge bear slowly slid down into a big pile of shaking black fur.
Trowa swallowed, felt his heart start again. Just as he thought he’d gotten his Christmas wish after all, a racoon, who had somehow been launched into the air hit the barrier, spread eagle, his tail one great big poofed out twitching ball of shock. He also slide down to melt over the top of the still unconscious bear.
Quatre reached out and tugged the back of his hair. “Now, Dear, did you think I was sitting out here unprotected? A tenth of the world’s shift pathers are seeking the Kaj. Really. I’m interested, but not irrational. Come. Have some tea. I have your Christmas present.”
Trowa’s eye twitched. “You knew it was coming here?”
“I did. I find the Kaj very interesting. Come, come. Tea, my darling.”
Trowa straightened his tie and moved to sit with Quatre, looking completely unconcerned, even if his heart was trying to warn him that disaster was utterly imminent. “People are going to die.”
“Nonsense. I installed protective measures over all those that are not seeking the Kaj. Come, watch the lovely display of human spirit mixed with our purer animal instincts.”
“I think I might close my eyes.”
Quatre poured tea, hands elegant and refined. “As it suits you.”
“Oh my god... I think that snake is eating that cat! I hope it’s not someone’s escaped pet. Think of the insurance claims, Quatre!”
“Tut tut,” Quatre said, dropping another sugar cube into his tea. “That’s not a cat. It’s a porcupine. I love the vagaries of nature. Drink your tea, dear.”
“What are you trying to gain,” Trowa asked, hand shaking only so slightly that Quatre might notice and no one else.
“I wish to meet a difficult to find lady. I made reservations for Yuy, Maxwell, and us in Honolulu. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Not at all,” Trowa said, sipping the tea, leaning back a little, lips parted, then taking another sip.
“Yes, it’s Irish. It’s Christmas eve, after all.” Quatre smiled, winked.
Then the nerve agent hit, rippling across the port waiting room like a sound boom. Those that weren’t shifters giggled and took photos as those that were, for the most part, sized and fell over. One just could not have lions and crocodiles fighting in public. It wasn’t done.
Trowa’s attention was drawn to one little old woman, silver hair, silver fur coat, as she clutched her handbag to her chest. Of course, a few innocents are always caught in most defense strategies. Her eyes went wide, dark and she popped rather like a balloon. Trowa blinked and there sat a rather round chinchilla on the woman’s hand bag. The protective field snapped into place around her. One of the android staff members circulating, offering everyone complimentary beverages and sugar cookies, paused by the chinchilla and set down a chew toy and slice of fruit like treat.
Quatre made a dismissive gesture. “Clearly a non-contestant shifter. Everyone needs their Christmas treats. Five minutes until Christmas! Don’t worry so much.”
“I think I might have a heart attack.”
“Nonsense. You’ve had an artificial and completely dependable heart for a century. Have cookie.”
“OH my god. Quatre, did you orchestrate this catastrophe?”
“Orchestration might be overstating a bit. You overestimate my skills, darling. Watch now, I do believe we are about to see Duo and Heero at their best.”
“Oh my god,” Trowa said, grabbing a cookie. “OH my god. Did you put marijuana in the cookies?”
“I don’t bake, but I might have made a request. They’re delicious, don’t you think. Oh, and don’t eat the stars. Those have psilocybin. I’m saving them for Maxwell and Yuy.”
Trowa put the cookie back and spit the half chewed bits into a napkin. “Oh. My. God.”
“I can’t wait to watch their expressions! You can spank me when we get to Honolulu!”
Trowa’s face twitched. “You. Have. No. Idea.”
“Wonderful! Look, look! There’s Duo! Isn’t he splendid!?”
“Ohdeargod,” Trowa wheezed as his best friend, currently wearing the shape of a rather small looking crow, screeched loudly, his claws deep into the feathers of a much larger eagle, as the eagle’s apparent mate came in from behind. “Duo’s gonna die!”
“Well, that would totally ruin Hawaii, now wouldn’t it?”
Only bird shifters remained active, those that had been above the nerve agent’s pulse. Heero still hadn’t shifted at all, standing there holding onto the counter where Duo had been, his hands behind him, eyes on Duo as he rode one eagle down towards the ground. The Kaj continued to fall slowly, floating down a little like the approach of Glinda the Good Witch. Duo dug his right talons in, the eagle screamed, pitched right and his mate ran into him, as Duo released, rolling not unlike a scythed gundam might once have done. As for flying combat, he might be small, but he definitely had an advantage of an office worker. And a crow loves things that shine.
A moment later, he had the little marble in his beak and was flying with all his will, beating the air as a hawk dived towards him and a pelican snapped at him.
Heero finally gained his will, throwing his being into the climb, becoming sleek and black, a streak of white in his raven form, albino... smooth white feathers and baby blue eyes. He screamed, attacked with his talons out, coming in over the top of Duo and aiming at the pelican who wanted nothing more than to swallow Duo whole. Shocked, the pelican and hawk both veered off for the moment, unwilling to engage the strange raven.
Duo hit the ground, rolling over his shoulder and coming up to his knee in human form. He held the Kaj in one fist, but sound behind him snapped his attention behind him. A little girl clung to her mother’s hand, big frightened eyes. Duo smiled at her, winked, but there was such a look of despair on the girl’s face that his gaze traveled up to her mom. That was a look he’d seen too many times, over too many years and it echoed deep across the expanse of his soul. The woman’s head tilted wrong, her eyes wide and lifeless.
Duo clenched the warm marble in his hand, his jaw tight. He and Heero needed to be the same species, or Heero was right... they would kill each other. Nature wasn’t very kind, in many ways. It made his gut cold. There was only one per Kaj.
With a shove, he skidded the distance to the girl, grabbed both her hands and wrapped them around the marble. His face twitched as he tried not to cry. Dying was bad, but living while forever separated from the only person he truly and deeply connected to might be worse. “Everything’s going to be okay for like two more minutes and think about yer mum bein’ alive. Okay?”
“You’re a bird,” she said, in a slightly British accent.
“Sometimes,” Duo agreed. “You don’t let that go for nothing. You’ve got to be holding it at midnight. Got me?”
“Well now that ain’t gonna happen,” the pelican said, towering over Duo. “That’s mine. You give it to me and I won’t hurt you.”
“He’s not gonna hurt you, honey,” Duo said, getting to his feet.
The pelican was a good foot taller and broader, big pale fists. Duo tucked his chin, took a fighting stance. “Come on ya fuckin’ glutton!”
Something hit the pelican from behind, just hard enough to make him turn and look. Heero, also back in human form, had a hockey stick and a baseball bat.
“Raven, leave me alone or I’ll swallow you up just like this pathetic fucking crow.”
“Try to touch him and I will do you mortal harm, sir,” Heero said before tossing Duo the baseball bat. He moved, blur swift to stand next to Duo, hockey stick up. “I believe I would enjoy doing so.”
“Raven.. you can’t be friends with a crow. Nothing except scavengers. Their very scent is disgusting.”
“I believe it’s an acquired taste,” Heero said, glaring.
With mere seconds to go, the pelican roared and lunged... Duo and Heero both rushed him back, holding him back as precious seconds ticked away. He punched Duo’s head, driving him to his feet, but Heero swung the hockey stick like it was a prized martial arts weapon. throat strike, nose, throat, driving the bigger man back.
Then time was up.
The marble expanded to the size of a small car, light filled and no more substantial than a glittery fog. A woman, slender and beautiful, blonde hair, longer on one side than the other stepped into existence. To either side, her knights defended her. One was tall, wide, with coffee colored skin and kind and gentle eyes. This knight bore a book, filled with all names. The other was blond with green eyes. Blond curls surrounded his face. He wore black leather pants and a black crop top. Both hands held to the hilt of a great golden sword. The darker of the knights spoke with a great booming voice, “The Kaj will speak now.”
“If you are here, you are here because you were summoned, to be tested, to have your souls weighed to judge your continued existence.”
The chinchilla squeaked.
“Or in her case, she’s just on her way to visit her daughter. It’s a very busy port.”
The dark knight offered his hand and she stepped down from where she’d been standing on thin air so she could go to one knee and look in the terrified girl’s face. “You wishes are granted.”
Immediately the girl turned into a tabby cat and jumped up into her mother’s startled face. “What happened?”
“Your daughter saved your life. She doesn’t like peanut butter.”
“Okay,” the woman said, her eyes wide as she petted her new cat.
Kaj stood up, her eyes surveying all the shift pather’s in the port. A couple of them turned to dust. “Some of you are found unworthy.”
The chinchilla clutched the chew treat.
“And some of you please me.” She held her hands out to Duo and Heero, both of whom knelt before her, each kissing a hand. “You are healed. Henceforth, you are Corvus cadre.”
Duo grew a little larger. Heero grew a little smaller. In a spark of renewed energy, they shifted and climbed towards the dark glass ceiling, two dark gray corvids of equal size and speed.
“My lady,” Quatre said sweetly.
Shocked, her eyebrows arching she turned to the blond. Her own blond held his sword out threateningly. Trowa pulled his pistol again.
Martha the Kaj grunted. “You can see me?”
“Of course.” Quatre said, bowing politely. “I’m Quatre Raberba Winner and this is my space port. I just really wanted to give you my business card. I think we might wish to discuss technology trades.” He held out his card with both hands, bowing still.
“Um. Perhaps.” She said as her dark knight took his card. “I’ll email you. I’d be interested to know what you think you can offer me.”
“Oh madame, you might be surprised what I have at my disposal.”
And then without fan fare, the Kaj was gone. Flights resumed. Trowa spent an hour getting Heero and Duo to come the hell down.
As they left the port, being driven out to Quatre’s private shuttle, the mischievous blond was all about the tea and cookies. “Do try a cookie! Try the stars! I think you’ll love them!”
Trowa groaned and sighed, staring off into the distance as Duo and Heero both bit into their stars.
Merry Christmas, Joyous Solstice, Happy New Year!